The Lord Mayor's Week: Why O'Gara should receive the Freedom of Cork

The Lord Mayor's Week: Why O'Gara should receive the Freedom of Cork
Former Munster and Ireland star Ronan O'Gara is to received the Freedom of Cork. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Another full and varied week behind me and another eventful one in front of me. 

My proposal to award the Freedom of the City to Ronan O’Gara was thankfully agreed by the Council and will pave the way to a wonderful event and time to celebrate all that’s good about Cork and being a Corkonian. 

Selecting Ronan was no slight on other worthy potential recipients. Ronan has always given his all to his sport in school, college, club, province and country not to mention the Lions. His tenacity and nerve are of the highest level and his commitment to Cork has been unwavering. 

Many years ago, not long into Ronan’s breakthrough onto the International stage, I happened to be in Cork Con after the training sessions finished. Ronan joined the very young players to spend time with them showing them kicking techniques and giving them advice. 

To me, that shows a very generous side to Ronan and his love of the game and sportsmanship are clear for all to see.

Ronan O'Gara celebrates after kicking the last minute, match winning drop goal against Northampton at Thomond Park in 2011. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ronan O'Gara celebrates after kicking the last minute, match winning drop goal against Northampton at Thomond Park in 2011. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

The main attribute that Ronan possesses is leadership, a trait that can at times seem to be in short supply in Cork and Ireland. The Office of Lord Mayor offers the holder an opportunity to lead the city and to encourage people to lead their clubs, associations and communities to make Cork a better place for all of us to live in. 

Having experienced many occasions where individuals take opportunities to improve their communities is inspiring, and they do this in a very selfless way, ‘I Wish Foundation, Ignite Programme, Enable Ireland, Age Action, Meals & Wheels, sports clubs, community associations, Reimagine Cork and on and on not to mention charities.

Recently I met the Street Pastors group who last Saturday had 12 new volunteers inducted. To listen to the positive interventions that they have done, on behalf of us, to vulnerable people, male and female, late into the night on the streets of Cork was reassuring. 

Newly-commissioned Cork Street Pastors celebrate, after receiving their caps at the Cork Street Pastors' commissioning service at City Hall. Picture: David Keane.
Newly-commissioned Cork Street Pastors celebrate, after receiving their caps at the Cork Street Pastors' commissioning service at City Hall. Picture: David Keane.

The fact that they know by face two ‘predators’ hanging around the city with vulnerable young females trying to make their way home is distressing at one level but comforting also. We should not underestimate the amount of people giving their time to make Cork safer but we should also be more diligent.

Last week I held a debate for the secondary schools in the city to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Ireland being a member of the European Union. 

Nine schools took part. Four teams were then selected to join me for one night and two days in Brussels to visit the European Parliament and UN.

The debate was fascinating and reassuring. The knowledge shown by the students was researched well and delivered superbly. 

Maebh Ni Dhalaigh, Gaelcholaiste Mhuire, North Mon A.G. taking part in the recent debate in City Hallon the advantages and disadvantages of being a member of the European Union. Picture: Larry Cummins
Maebh Ni Dhalaigh, Gaelcholaiste Mhuire, North Mon A.G. taking part in the recent debate in City Hallon the advantages and disadvantages of being a member of the European Union. Picture: Larry Cummins

To see the city council chamber full of school students debating a very important topic reassured me that our future generation will make fine decision makers and that they are far better informed than we give them credit for. 

Well done to all who participated and a thanks to their teachers who made the day possible.

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